Vizcaya on the Beach

Vizcaya_on_the_Beach-blueprint (2)

Vizcaya on the Beach
Dona Altemus | Gaston Lachaise | Maritza Molina | Ernesto Oroza
Opening Reception | April 6, 2016 | 7-10pm
924 Vitrine | 924 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach

On view through June 5, 2016

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens’ Contemporary Arts Program (CAP) commissions artists to develop site-specific work inspired by Vizcaya, the winter residence of James Deering (1859–1925), that was built between 1914 and 1922 in the Coconut Grove area of Miami. The estate, conceived as a modern and subtropical interpretation of an eighteenth-century Italian villa, was entirely surrounded by subtropical forest—the Main House and the formal gardens appeared as a dreamlike vision in the midst of the jungle on the shores of Biscayne Bay. Today, Vizcaya is an oasis of silence and green, miraculously preserved just south of Miami’s modern skyline.

The CAP program, initiated in 2006, draws on the spirit of creative dialogue that characterized Vizcaya’s founding. Deering was a patron of contemporary artists of his day and commissioned figures like Gaston Lachaise and A. Stirling Calder for site-specific work. CAP provides visitors with new ways of seeing the historic estate, and strengthens relations with contemporary artists. Projects have ranged from long-term installations by individual artists to one-night-only programs featuring the work of several artists. All CAP projects explore themes related to Vizcaya, using the site as a point of departure. Vizcaya on the Beach highlights the historic precedent of CAP by exhibiting the work of Gaston Lachaise alongside recently commissioned works by Dona Altemus (2015), Maritza Molina (2015) and Ernesto Oroza (2011).

Gaston Lachaise
Lachaise’s work was among the more avant-garde commissions by Vizcaya’s founder James Deering. Lachaise was a Frenchmen but was naturalized through marriage. He worked very closely with Paul Manship on the designs for Rockefeller Center and his work can be seen throughout the plaza. He is best known for his gravity defiant figurative work which prompted E.E. Cummings to liken Lachaise to sculpture as Cezanne is to painting. He also exhibited several works in the 1913 Armory Show. Lachaise created a pair of peacocks out of plaster in his New York City studio and then shipped the models down to Vizcaya, where artisans did a rough cut in native coral stone. Lachaise came onsite to do the final touches in 1921. The peacocks (currently deinstalled and in storage at Vizcaya) once marked the site where guests would transition from the old world formal gardens to the new world lagoon gardens.

Ernesto Oroza | Archetype Vizcaya
Oroza’s work focuses on design and architecture. The notion of archetype—the original pattern or model on which all similar things are based—is central to his investigation of material culture. As part of his installation, Oroza inserted silhouettes of the invasive plants that endanger Miami’s local vegetation on plexiglass panels in the Main House, challenging visitors to question what is original and authentic at a place like Vizcaya. In this exhibition, Oroza installs the silhouettes in a similar fashion on the glass of the vitrine. He also installs a “wallpaper” using images of the extravagant marble floors that served as an organizing principle in another portion of his original project.

Maritza Molina | Sparkling Vision
Inspired by Vizcaya owner James Deering’s spirit of creation, Sparkling Vision reflects the interplay between the real and the imagined. Molina’s performance was part of Fantastical Vizcaya in December 2015 and activated Vizcaya through whimsical forms and playful intervention, alluding to a vision of fantasy and dreams as the magic of Vizcaya materialized. The performance/installation conveyed an ethereal dreamlike state connected to Molina’s personal interpretation for her ideal Vizcaya, a place where everything sparkles of gold, a state she imagines may have been characteristic of Deering’s vision in the years leading up to Vizcaya’s creation. Remnants from the resulting installation are exhibited here.

Dona Altemus | Southeastern Quadrant
Southeastern Quadrant was a participatory collaboration that, in the week preceding Fantastical Vizcaya, engaged Vizcaya visitors as co-creators in constructing a large-scale textile work assembled in the public realm. Museum visitors selected historic archival images, which they transferred onto fabric under the artist’s guidance. Altemus stitched these individual fabric components together using quilting techniques. The result is a large-scale architectural collage that references the many minds and voices that participated in the manifestation of Vizcaya.


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